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A Student’s Spirit Guide

Written by Michelle Colyar for Prof. David Loomis’ Journalism 120 course at IUP;
published with permission of author and subject

INDIANA- Brock Kawana never wanted to go to Indiana University of Pennsylvania. While wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt with the logo IUP Kawana explained why.

“I knew IUP had a reputation for a lot of freshmen dropouts ‘cause of too much partying and bad grades,” he said. Kawana, “Did not want to travel down this path.” But when he first got to IUP he almost did just that.

“My first semester at IUP I got a 1.4 GPA,” he said. “I was disappointing myself as well as my family,” explained Kawana.

Then, Kawana’s English professor made an impact on his life. His name was Marlen Harrison. Kawana met him in his second semester at school.

“Brock never seemed to me to be ‘at risk’,” explained Harrison, “so it was a surprise when I learned that he was struggling in his first semester.”

Kawana said Harrison inspired him. He was given the tools and knowledge he needed to do well in school.

            “He gave me a reality check,” he said. Meeting Harrison was like, “When you meet your spirit guide.” 

            Harrison guided him from a 1.4 GPA to a 3.6 GPA, Kawana said. And since meeting Harrison he has made the dean’s list since.

“He has been so successful as both a student and a writer that I invited him to work as a course assistant in a future literature course,” Harrison said, mentoring and inspiring other student writers.”

Being in Harrison’s class Kawana got his priorities in order, he said. He wanted to prove to his family what he is really capable of.

            “It went from my mom crying from disappointment in me, to crying tears of joy,Kawana said. “My whole family was really proud.”

            “It was like fate that I was put in Harrison’s class,” Kawana said. “Without him I would just be another freshman drop out.”

Brock Kawana went on to complete Marlen’s Humanities Literature and Research Writing courses as well, fulfilling all of his required liberal arts English courses at IUP with Marlen and earning A’s in all three of his courses.